BBC - The Story of Reggae - UK Dance

  • Jungle was never anything more than the drum and the bass meets dancehall reggae
  • The 1980s rave scene owed everything to sound system culture.
  • Britains with Jamaican heritage have been crucial to all the dance scenes.
  • British rap foundered because rappers had to try to sound American - The Derek B Syndrome - by allowing Jamaican dancehall slang in, UK garage and jungle managed to stay credible.
  • UK hiphop today and dance MCs are using the Brisitsh accent mixed with Jamaican vibes - Rodney P, Roots Maunuva, Skibadee & GQ.
So Solid Crew Mis-Teeq
So Solid Crew


Mis-Teeq


UK Urban Dance
Without reggae and how it does things, it's unlikely the UK soul and dance music scene would have developed in the way that it has. With Jamaicans, for a long time making up half the total numbers of immigrants to the UK from the Caribbean, that island's culture was always going to have a massive effect on how black culture shaped itself in Britain.

When sound systems established themselves in London in the 1950s, they set a trend for how black music should be enjoyed, both in terms of the rig's bass capabilities, and also in the blues dance environment of late night house parties or after-hours clubs. It wasn't unusual to find sound systems built along reggae lines that played nothing but soul and funk music indeed the most famous of these was Soul II Soul, who made the transition from reggae sound system Jah Rico to their far more inclusive later incarnation without losing their blues/dance essence.

Likewise the rave culture of the late-1980s that saw huge rigs playing all night in the open air, which is more or less what Prince Buster and Coxsone were doing in Kingston in the late 1950s.

When the UK started making its own dance music, the dub and remix techniques and bass-heavy sound balances of reggae dictated how things shaped up drum'n'bass didn't even bother to think up a new name for itself. The later styles, jungle and UK garage, borrowed heavily from dancehall in terms of attitude and presentation, as they always worked hard to remain underground and show themselves as aggressively exclusive.

But the real influence came in terms of language and how UK MCs could present themselves; rapping, in a false American accent always sounded exactly like that a false American accent but flowing lyrics in a streetwise, patois-drenched slang was entirely natural. It freed the jungle MCs to be a lot more creative with their lyrical delivery and subject matter as they didn't have to concentrate on how they were talking, something that prepared the way for UK garage and crews like So Solid whose roots include dancehall.